Dog-Eared and Dispatched: August 3, 2014
This week in our weekly rundown of book culture, we’ve got ebook news, as publishers adopt different approaches to increase sales, Hachette also got some good news this week with improved overall sales, and of course if we have Hachette news, where would we be without Amazon news, too? Are you ready? Get reading, then!
This has been an interesting week for ebooks, as publishers discover that plain old ebooks are not seeing quite as much growth as they would like. Some take the simple route: Scholastic has shut down its children’s ebook service Storia, converting it into a subscription service. Harper and Ingram, meanwhile, are teaming up with Bookshout to streamline the process of bundling ebooks with print book purchases: “When a customer buys a physical copy of one of the titles included in the bundling program, they can pay a small fee, get a BookShout code that lets them download a digital edition.” Libraries are lucking out as Overdrive adds support for fixed-format epubs which will allow them to deliver highly illustrated books. Or of course you could invest in an reader that shouts out the title of what you are reading. We will keep you posted on how these strategies pan out. [Galleycat, Publishers Weekly, The Onion, Shatzkin Files]
In the news of publishing mergers, Hachette’s acquisition of Perseus has been delayed due to the complications of the three part deal. There aren’t any known financial difficulties, especially as Hachette’s revenues are up 5.6% in the first half of 2014, compared with the first half of 2013. (The dispute with Amazon is hurting ebook sales, though – down to 29% of revenue from 34% last year.) While Hachette, Perseus, and Ingram are the beginning of the process, NewsCorps’ acquisition of Harlequin is at an end: Harlequin is now part of HarperCollins, a process which began back in May. [Publishers Weekly, Galleycat, MobyLives!, Galleycat]
Amazon has made another statement about its dispute with Hachette, focusing on ebook pricing. Mike Shatzkin has annotated the Amazon statement over at Idealog. Although discussions about Amazon often have an air of fable, one needs to think about the alternatives to Amazon: “We set out with a desire to design and build something that could compete with Amazon’s massive scale. But, ultimately, we found that perhaps the best way to get traction against a dominant player like Amazon is not to build something equally titanic, but to build something wee, something human. Grassroots. Peer-to-peer. Something simple. Distributed. Democratic. Something that will turn the focus back to art and away from commerce and shareholders. Connection. Emotion. Humanity.” Humanity in a the bookselling business? Novel thought. [Shatzkin Files, MobyLives!, Publishers Weekly]
- Excerpt from Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki.
- Reading Harry Potter can teach kids empathy. Who knew?
- An animated history of typography.
- McSweeney’s is running a student short story contest. The deadline is August 31. Get on it, people.
- Despite misgivings, Judge Denise Cote has given preliminary approval to the Apple settlement.
- Joyce’s Ulysses set to become a virtual reality game.
- Please return your library books before they are fifty-four years overdue. Thanks!